The world’s fourth largest island, Madagascar boasts a unique ecosystem, with many species of plants and animals found nowhere else. Despite its great potential, in recent decades the country has experienced a stagnation in per capita income and a rise in absolute poverty. Recent political instability has undermined government institutional capacity, economic growth and development efforts. It has also reduced people's access to basic services and their ability to prevent and recover from frequent shocks.
92 percent of Madagascar's population lives on less than US$ 1,90 per day. Affecting almost half of all children under 5 - the world’s fourth highest rate - chronicmalnutrition is considered a major public health concern in Madagascar.
Farming, fishing and forestry form the backbone of the Malagasy economy. Agriculture is dominated by rain-fed small-scale subsistence farming: seven out of 10 smallholder farmers own no more than 1.2 hectares of land. Rice is the main staple food and the island’s main crop, but not enough is produced to satisfy the national demand. Agricultural production remains low due to factors including limited access to agricultural productive assets, credit and markets; gender inequality limiting women and girls’ access to land; poor post-harvest techniques; inadequate natural resources management; and lack of adequate access to markets for smallholder farmers.
Madagascar is among the ten countries most vulnerable to natural disastersand is considered as the most cyclone-exposed country in Africa. A quarter of the population lives in areas highly prone to cyclones, floods or drought. Climate change and environmental degradation exacerbate these risks while the increasing fragility of the ecosystem intensifies vulnerability to shocks and food insecurity. Deforestation has become a major concern: 90 percent of Madagascar’s original rainforests have been lost to logging, charcoal-making and slash-and-burn agriculture.
The Grand Sud region of Madagascar suffered several consecutive years of rain shortfalls which was further aggravated by the global El Niño weather event in 2016 and 2017. Although humanitarian assistance by the World Food Programme (WFP) and other agencies contributed to halving the number of severely food insecure people by the end of the 2016-2017 lean season, the food security situation in the region remains fragile, with 1.6 million people estimated to be severely food insecure – and 393, 145 of them in an ‘emergency condition’ – as of October 2017.
In Madagascar, WFP addresses the immediate food needs and helps strengthen the resilience of disaster affected vulnerable populations through unconditional food assistance and Food Assistance for Assets programmes. WFP also provides nutritional support to children, pregnant women and girls and nursing mothers for the prevention of undernutrition, supports the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition and contributes to education indicators through the school meals programme.
To ensure the sustainability of its interventions, WFP strengthens the capacities of the Government of Madagascar through the provision of material and technical assistance and joint assessments and evaluations in the areas of food security and nutrition as well as Disaster Risk Reduction.
WFP’s work is concentrated in the southern, south-western and south-eastern regions, as well as in poor urban areas of the capital, Antananarivo, Toamasina (Tamatave) and Tuléar.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Madagascar
Food assistanceBased on findings from the Government-led Food Security Phase classification (IPC, June 2019), 900,000 people from 13 districts in the South and South-East are in crisis and emergency and need urgent humanitarian assistance. WFP plans to provide relief assistance to 210,000 people in 32 communes through food distributions and cash transfers, combined with activities to treat malnutrition children under 2.
NutritionWFP provides support for the prevention of malnutrition and vitamin and mineral deficiencies among women, men, boys and girls. It also supports the Government’s efforts to increase the availability of high-quality fortified foods, in line with national commitments under the Scaling Up Nutrition initiative.
School feedingWFP provides school meals with the support of the Ministry of National Education and is helping to develop a national school feeding policy and a home-grown school feeding programme linked to smallholder farm production. This will help diversify food consumption, increase school retention rate and improve children’s ability to learn.
Support to smallholder farmers and resilience buildingWFP works with the Government to improve smallholder farmers’ livelihoods and resilience to climate shocks by strengthening their skills and ability to access and use productive assets, climate information, financial services and markets. WFP will focus on understanding and addressing the challenges faced by women in rural communities, who are often cut out from owning land and agricultural assets, and face discriminatory customary practices.
Emergency preparedness and responseWFP supports the National Disaster Management Authority and the national institute of statistics in integrating the food security, vulnerability and nutrition assessments of different agencies into a single process that operates from the village to the national level. Backed by climate early warning, seasonal forecasts and seasonal agricultural data, this approach will enable government, humanitarian and development actors to implement preparedness and early response actions as part of a comprehensive, shock and gender-responsive social protection system.
Partners and DonorsAchieving Zero Hunger is the work of many. Our work in Madagascar is made possible by the support and collaboration of our partners and donors, including:
- Germany (multilateral)Global Partnership for Education (through World Bank)FEED Projects